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here and there, and put by with the determination to read it through afterwards, at a time, in fact, when the reading of it, so far as regards the panorama, will be useless.
Jerusalem, though fallen from its high estate, though shorn of its glory, cannot fail to be very attractive to all who feel interest in the stupendous events of by-gone days. No wonder, then, that a representation of it, as it now stands, should have drawn together old and young, to satisfy their curiosity in gazing on the mingled splendour and desolation that now characterize the city once "beloved by God."
A place that has seventeen times been ravaged with fire and sword, and all the ruthless desolation of relentless warfare, cannot be looked upon without emotion. Here, the Jews have fought, to defend their hallowed city, their holy temple, and the ark of the covenant. Here, the victorious cohorts of the Romans, with resistless fury, have broken down the strong walls of defence, and smitten the people of God with the edge of the sword. Here, legions of Saracens, like devouring locusts, have spread desolation around; and here, also, deluded men, calling themselves Christians, have shed their blood freely as water, in what they called "a holy war." On this spot the Assyrian, the Babylonian, the Egyptian, the Parthian, the Persian, and the Turk, have vied with each other in rapine and slaughter.
The page whereon is inscribed the desolations of Jerusalem, is a monument of Divine wrath, that cannot be contemplated without fear and trembling. Here are held up to view the righteous judgments of God towards a rebellious and stiff-necked people. "Who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?" Job ix. 4. "He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?" Dan. iv. 35.
Passing over the many destructions that visited this devoted city, let me dwell for a moment upon one only. When Titus invested the place, six hundred thousand Jews perished for lack of food. "The famine was sore in the land;" for the armed hand of the enemy guarded the gates night and day. Many more than a million died by the sword, and ninety-seven thousand were sent away prisoners. The magnitude of this desolation is oppressive; the besom of destruction, indeed, passed over Jerusalem, and swept away her greatness.
Jerusalem is now the abode of Turks, Arabs, Christians, and Jews: of the latter there are but few, and they are miserably poor, and much oppressed.
The mosques are splendid buildings, especially that of Omar, the finest specimen of Saracenic architecture in the whole world. This splendid building is supposed to occupy the site of the ancient temple of Solomon, which stood on the threshing-floor of Oman the Jebusite, on Mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared unto David, 2 Chron. iii. 1, and where the visible glory appeared. It was erected by the caliph Omar, and is deemed next in sanctity to that of Mecca. At the time of the crusaders it became a Christian church, and when they abandoned the city, Saladin caused the whole building to be washed with rose-water before he would enter it. "It is a regular octagon, each side being seventy feet in width; it is entered by four spacious doors facing the cardinal points, the Bab el Garb on the west; Bab nebbe Daoud, or of David, on the east; Bab el Kebla, or of Prayer, on the south; and Bab el Djinna, or of Heaven, on the north. Each of these entrances has a porch of timber-work, of considerable height, excepting Bab el Kebla, which has a fine portico, surrounded by eight Corinthian pillars of marble. The lower part of the walls is faced with marble, evidently very ancient; it is white, with a slight tinge of blue, and pieces wholly blue are occasionally introduced with good effect. Each face is panelled, the sides of the panels forming plain pilasters at the angles; the upper part is faced with small glazed tiles, about eight inches square, of various colours, blue being the prevailing, with passages from the Koran on them, forming a singular and beautiful mosaic. The four plain sides have each seven well-proportioned windows of stained glass; the four sides of entrance have only six. The roof gently rises towards the perpendicular part under the dome, which is also covered with coloured tiles, arranged in various elegant devices. The dome, which was built by Solyman i, is spherical, covered with lead, and crowned by a gilt crescent; the whole is ninety feet in height, and has a light and beautiful effect, the fanciful disposition of the soft colours above, contrasting with the blue and white marble below, is extremely pleasing."
The various convents, the monasteries, the domes, and the minarets, also arrest the attention of the spectator; but it is not to see a representation of these that a visit is paid to the panorama of Jerusalem. What though other buildings now occupy the places where once stood the Temple of Solomon, the castle of David, and the gates of the holy city! what though the Christian visitor be, for a moment, led away by Mohammedan splendour! his thoughts soon return to more interesting inquiries. He feels an affectionate reverence stealing over him; he yearns to gaze upon the very places where the Redeemer was once present, beginning with thespot whence he entered Jerusalem, sitting on the foal of an ass, while the palm-branches were waved to and fro, the garments strown in the way, and the cry of "Hosanna to the Son of David," mounted to the skies.
And is that, yonder, in very deed, the same Mount of Olives whereon Jesus and his disciples so often assembled? Yes! the very same. Time, that alters all things, may, in some respects, have changed the appearance of the place; yet, still it is the same, and the olive flourishes there, as of olden time. That rugged road which crosses the Mount, is the dangerous road to Jericho; and the spot at the foot of the Mount of Olives is the Garden of Gethsemane:
That hallow'd and peculiar place,
There Jesus knelt, and felt within
The bitter curse of mortal sin,
While strong compassion brought him low,
And drops of blood bedew'd his brow.
There gladly would I lowly bend,
On one of these spots before me in the distance, which commands a view of Jerusalem, stood the Saviour when he wept over the city. How affecting were his words!" Seest thou these great buildings; there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." "For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and con.